Micah Bergdale, 28

Web entrepreneur turned Jewish community activist

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An IT geek since he was a teenager, Micah Bergdale started his first computer business around the same time he entered an undergraduate business program — at the ripe old age of 15.

Following his graduation from Northern Arizona University, Bergdale spent a brief period at a dotcom startup in Kansas City and then moved to Chicago to work for Apple. In 2003, he launched his own IT consulting firm, Digital Criterion, which manages networks and IT issues for small- to medium-sized businesses in the health care and banking industries. The company has grown since then and now has offices here and in three other major cities.

Bergdale is something of a political junkie, too. Eight years after working for Sen. John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign, Bergdale volunteered for then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama, with whom he spoke extensively about American Jewry.

But it was only in 2005, when Bergdale went on a Birthright Israel trip, that he turned his social activism toward the Jewish community. “[Birthright] initiated the spark in exploring more about my Jewish heritage and my connection with the Jewish community,” he said. Following Birthright, Bergdale attended an ROI (Return on Investment) Summit.

After meeting other young Jewish social entrepreneurs at the conference, he partnered with several to form a nonprofit called Israel360, which raises money to fund trips similar to Birthright, but targeting populations that Birthright doesn’t reach, such as young intermarried couples. “A big concern of Israel360 is assimilation and intermarriage and interfaith relationships,” Bergdale said. “I think people lose their connection with the Jewish community.”

Claim to fame: Worked as a “Mac Genius” for three years at Apple.

Big win? Bergdale rarely gambles, but will play PowerBall or Mega Millions when the jackpot hits $200 million.

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Staff Writer

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